Families, relatives and community members gather for a prayer vigil in remembrance of 37 psychiatric patients on October 27, 2016 in Johannesburg.
JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) laid charges of culpable homicide and with contraventions of the Mental Health Care Act (MHCA) and the (NHA) against former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu on Friday.
“I also charge the MEC with breaches of the [National Health Act] NHA that relate the withholding of adequate health services and also the failure to provide discharge reports,” DA health spokesman in the province, Jack Bloom said.
Mahlangu resigned following the release of the damning report from the Health Ombudsman into psychiatric patients’ deaths — who died after they were transferred from provincial government contractor Life Esidimeni Centre to 27 NGO’s around the province.
Bloom said he laid charges because it was important that there were consequences for contraventions of the law by politicians and also because he was not confident that the provincial government would lay similar charges against former MEC.
“The scale of the deaths and the negligence make this a Medical Marikana that requires accountability from the perpetrators and justice for the victims,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) laid charges of murder against the Gauteng provincial health department on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba revealed that in contrast to a figure of 36 fatalities given by Mahlangu in the provincial legislature last year, at least 94 psychiatric patients out of 1300 had died between March and December 2016, after they were moved.
According to the report, the patients were transferred to NGOs that lacked basic competence and experience. They also did not have the leadership capacity to care for mentally ill patients and were operating under invalid licenses. The number could have risen as the rest of the patients remained at the NGOs.
Mahlangu will be replaced by incumbent Deputy Minister of Health, Gwen Ramokgopa.